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NEWS | March 15, 2024

Joint Base Langley-Eustis Units Deploy to Aid Gaza Relief Efforts

By Tech. Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army soldiers with the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, XVIII Airborne Corps, deployed Tuesday, Mar. 12, to provide humanitarian aid in Gaza.

Brigadier Gen. Brad Hinson, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command commanding general and XVIII Airborne Corps Assistant Commanding General, Support, and Col. Samuel S. Miller, U.S. Army 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) commander, hosted a press conference prior to the departure.

“We are the Contingency Corps for the Army with units, divisions, brigade combat teams and separate brigades, that can deploy anywhere in the world for any type of contingency operation in 18 hours,” Hinson said. “7th TB(X) falls in that category where all of their units are deployable for an immediate response force for different types of contingencies all around the world.”

While deployed, the unit is slated to support the U.S. Agency for International Development efforts, establishing a multinational humanitarian assistance corridor to assist in delivering aid to Gaza residents.

The unit currently has 5 ships and about 100 personnel underway, setting sail across the Atlantic in support of this mission. The unit has no current timetable for return. They are prepared to stay as long as the mission requires. Hinson expanded further on the talent and capabilities of the soldiers deploying.

“A unit is made up of its Soldiers, the leadership of the Soldiers, the attitude of the Soldiers, and the hard work of the Soldiers; because of these Soldiers, 7th TB(X) is the premier watercraft unit in our Army,” Hinson said.

The 7th TB(X) is trained to conduct sustainment support over water in austere environments. This unit has provided this capability in many exercises, most recently Talisman Sabre in Australia. Miller further expanded on the capabilities and the assets the 7th TB(X) will deploy with.

“Our key [logistical assets] are Army watercraft systems, said Miller. “This includes the logistics support vessel, landing craft utility and the modular causeway system.”

These theater-opening capabilities include everything from command and control to seaport operations, Army watercraft operations and controlling a harbor.

The joint logistics-over-the-shore (JLOTS) capability these units provide will allow for a mobile port to facilitate ship-to-shore cargo conveyance. JLOTS can provide intra-theatre airlift, augment an established or degraded port, and create a pier in any area of responsibility.

“The President ordered the establishment of the temporary floating pier to transport humanitarian assistance [in his State of the Union Address],” said Miller. “Because we were prepared and ready for this task in this crisis, our first vessel left 36 hours after the President spoke.”

JLOTS enables support to areas where large populations may not have ready access to food, water and other forms of humanitarian aid. This capability gives commanders the ability to adapt to virtually any coastal and geographic conditions.

Hinson remarked that once fully mission capable, the JLOTS assets can deliver up to 2 million meals or bottles of water ashore daily. He added that comparing this with current aerial delivery capabilities, it marks an exponential leap forward in the ability to provide crucial aid consistently.

The last time the military used JLOTS in a humanitarian assistance/disaster relief context was following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Miller mentioned how focused the team is on their actions at JBLE to ensure success in theater and thanked other Department of Defense components for their support.

 “I want to thank some of our teammates who are making sure that we get out the door: Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Army Materiel Command, U.S. Transportation Command, Headquarters, DA [Department of the Army] and DOD.” He continued by adding that while this is a new concept to outsiders it is not new to them.

 “We understand the importance of this mission and the interest of the world in this regard. When it may seem at times we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, we will forge across the water to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance.” Hinson closed with his thoughts on the team deploying by mentioning how proud the leadership is, and how this is a moment where everyone will see the unique capabilities and reach of Army watercraft.

 “I think over the next few months, you're going to see exactly what you can do with it in just a short timetable.”